China on Wednesday successfully launched an orbiter into space which is a part of its indigenous satellite navigation and positioning network known as Beidou, aimed at reducing the dependence on U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS).
The orbiter, launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern Sichuan Province, was boosted by a Long March-3A carrier rocket into a geostationary orbit.
China started to build up its own satellite navigation system to break its dependence on the GPS since 2000.
Between October 2000 and May 2003, China had set up a regional satellite navigation system after launching three Beidou, or Compass system, geostationary satellites.
The system was known as Beidou-1 and is said to have played an important role in the rescue efforts following the devastating earthquake in May 2008 in Wenchuan as it provided the only channel connecting the quake-hit area and the outside, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The Beidou-1 system can not meet growing demand, so a better functional Beidou-2 regional and global navigation system will be set up, Qi Faren, former chief designer for Shenzhou spaceships, said in an interview with Xinhua early this year.
From April 2007 to April this year, China launched another eight orbiters to form its Beidou-2 system, which will eventually consist of 35 satellites.
The network will provide satellite navigation, time and short message services for Asia-Pacific regions by 2012 and global services by 2020.